Virginie Hollebecque, Vice President – EMEA at Ciena, elaborates to Channel Post MEA on her journey in the world of technology and how her mother’s career influenced her leadership style.
Tell us about your leadership style and philosophy.
I lead a very diverse team of experts across the EMEA region and I always strive to focus on adaptive leadership and adjust my approach according to each market and individual team. This helps me ensure that I can leverage the different viewpoints of all of team members, so at the end of the day we can share our best practices and experiences with innovation at heart. This ultimately, creates a strong and diverse team. In addition, underpinning my leadership style is a great level of trust which is the foundation to any relationships, including corporate ones. I’m a firm believer that this leads to happier and more productive teams.
What made you choose IT as a career opportunity?
The technology and telecommunications industries have always fueled my interest, and I was keen to see how we can leverage human knowledge and technology to connect the world. This is the reason why I was drawn to technology that had an impact on society once I finished my Masters in electronics. In fact, the pandemic has only increased my belief that the sense of purpose is critical in any kind of business or industry and it makes me very proud to be working in the ICT industry.
We have an ability to influence people’s lives in every single way from simple things (e.g. family or friends’ virtual connections, e-commerce, etc) to very essential services (e.g. connecting hospitals or all vaccinations sites, food ordering, among others). Ciena’s optical and software network innovations are making this happen. It is important to me to work in an industry and for a company where we are doing things for good!
How has your unique background prepared you for success in the industry?
My educational background paired with my professional experience in different countries and regions has allow me to continue to foster collaborative, inclusive, and highly motivated teams that keep the customer at the heart of everything they do.
Also, my mother was a psychologist and at home, we were always open to give or take the feedback from each other. And, I have kept this habit in me till now and whatever it is with my team, my peers, my management, friends, or with customers and partners, I prefer to share feedback with each other. This helps in creating a inclusive environment for everyone in the ecosystem.
What was your most interesting job?
With the risk of saying a banality, I would say all of them. Simply because, I see every job as an opportunity to leave some skills, and to develop new ones. In other worlds, I never experimented the situation where I did not find a job interesting. The main reason might be because I always check that a new job or a new responsibility fits my true values and create an opportunity to develop new experiences. Hence the common point has always been about profitable growth and business transformation.
As of today, the piece I enjoy the most is about developing, coaching, mentoring and sponsoring people in a diverse and multicultural environment.
What advice would you give to women looking to break into the field of computer technology?
One of the most important pieces of advice to any women, especially those wanting to enter in the IT sector, is to have self-confidence and believe that they can indeed be successful.
I always advise women to find a mentor within the organization that they respect and admire and who can be a good sounding board for development. Having a mentor that can offer industry insights and share their knowledge and expertise will help women grow in their career and give them the confidence they need to achieve success.
What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?
At Ciena, we are leading the technology industry in terms of pushing the limits of innovation and learning at the speed of light to develop new networking technology and software capabilities to make our networks smarter, faster and more agile. We live in a world where the rate of change is accelerating, also driven by cloud-based bandwidth hungry apps and the anticipated proliferation of IoT devices, enabled by mobile evolution to 5G and ever increasing network bandwidth capabilities.
We’ve been witnessing a fast-paced digital revolution that has yet a long way to go. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and network automation are just at the beginning of their lifecycle and will continue to evolve and impact our day to day lives. With AI, future networks will start to be more predictive and intelligent, programmed to automatically make recommendations, implement policies and respond to changing user demands instantly.
What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the tech industry?
Both automation and adaptive networks, which harness the power and efficiency of data-driven AI combined with the invaluable experience of engineers, will allow service providers to add fast provisioning and self-healing features to their infrastructure. This is a key driver paving the way for the upcoming years.
In addition, one of the biggest advancements is the 5G technology which will provide huge speeds and support up to 100 times as many connected devices – meeting the growing number of consumer and industrial use case demands. It will enable us to communicate in near real-time, making many new applications and use cases a reality, such as autonomous self-driving cars, improved user mobility (e.g. high speed trains), broadcast communications services (e.g. mobile television), critical lifeline services and ultra-reliable communications (e.g. remote eHealth monitoring).
What’s next for you in terms of your career in the tech industry?
I am focusing on developing a collaborative, multicultural and multi-generations environment as I truly believe that concentrating on people, high performing and diverse teams drives great employee satisfaction, which ultimately results in a better experience for Ciena’s customers. Lastly, I want to provide my team with the necessary tools for growth and a successful career path in today’s complex world.